Voice of hope amid political chaos

Sunday August 27 2023

Freed Mushaga performs at Alliance Francais Kampala, Uganda. PHOTO | POOL


Freed Mushaga is an artist with unique talent and unusually challenging circumstances. He is from Bukavu in eastern DR Congo, where has made a mark on the music scene with high-profile performances at the Institut Francais of Bukavu, Izulu 2021 Festival and at the Halle de la Gombe.

Mushaga is the winner of the Music in Africa Live 2022 Programme and was a finalist of the Nigerian Challenge #SixtyPercentofUs 2022.

However, Mushaga’s ascent to fame has been troubled by the political turmoil and economic poverty that have plagued his region for decades.

Mushaga has created an original fusion of organic local music and African pop, infused with a classically-trained sensibility.

Mushaga has recently joined the East African Records (EAR) collective.

Read: How refugees bring along their music and culture, creating a melting pot


And so it was that Mushaga had a major appearance on August 12 at the Alliance Francaise Kampala’s Akatuuti show.

Akatuuti is a new series of multimedia performances, curated by East African Records and the Alliance Francaise, providing a platform for upcoming artists and alternative culture in Uganda.

Mushaga’s Akatuuti show was dubbed “Tempo-Rarity” and explored the concept of time through a variety of media. The show united the diverse talents of Niina MC (Lugaflow and percussion), Bwengula Arts Academy (street acrobatics), Hassan Matovu (live painting), Blessed San (Spoken Word), IGC Fashion (disruptive design), Charles Obina (adungu and lamellaphone); Kvan (feminist dancehall) and, of course, Freed Mushaga at the centre of it all.

Landing somewhere between soul, traditional Congolese music and gospel, Mushaga’s music is hard to define, but his vocal abilities are undeniable and tie together his diverse musical interests and background.

The show’s audience area was packed, and the evening crammed a wide variety of cultural experiences into three hours of spiritual and provocative music and arts. Mushaga’s performance shined out, as he performed tracks from his forthcoming album.

Landing somewhere between Soul, traditional Congolese music and Gospel, Mushaga’s music is hard to define, but his vocal abilities are undeniable and tie together his diverse musical interests and background.

Read: Lingala and the ‘La Sapes’: DRC culture icons

According to Mr Cecil, the forthcoming album promises to be a milestone in East African music. “Freed’s vocal range and live energy are captivating. He’s a fantastic and original songwriter who puts a lot of time and thought into his work. He’s a very charming dude too! As soon as I met him, I knew he was destined for great things – he just has that aura.

“Starting from a very disadvantaged position, he managed to persuade such an interesting variety of artists to collaborate with him, including Makadem from Kenya, Mr Leo from Cameroon and some of Uganda’s finest musicians, including Albert Ssempeke and Charles Obina,” Mr Cecil said.

Mushaga’s Yowe is out now on all streaming platforms and his debut album titled Awali will be released in December this year.